Lauding the Bangla Soccer League (BSL), which was inaugurated on August 22, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has underlined that the five-a-side tournament will rekindle a sense of pride in Indian football.
The tournament will be held at various venues across West Bengal, including Vedic Village and Bidhannagar Purbachal Abasaan. The Bengal Soccer League will have its grand finale on September 22.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda on the inauguration day, Bhaichung explained how the "footballing culture" will be promoted through the league:
"Many of the youth who are going to participate here might develop a serious liking for the game and look for further opportunities to broaden their horizons. So, the footballing culture by default will be promoted and bring back the sense of pride in Indian football that the youths are missing these days."
Over 2,500 players from 20 events will participate in the league in a first of its kind. The Sikkimese Sniper opined that such tournaments will reignite the culture of para football (neighborhood football).
Echoing Bhutia's emotions, East Bengal legend Mehtab Hossain stated that today's kids are mostly engrossed in mobile phones and are getting detached from the football culture. He believes that the BSL will reward playing the game and its key objective is to help budding players achieve better physical and mental health.
On this, Mehtab Hossain stated to Sportskeeda:
"We are now handing out mobile phones to our kids to keep them at bay. But that is not the correct thing to do. Due to lack of time and commitment, even kids of football players are getting detached from the para football or football culture in general. Hence, tournaments like BSL are essential to promote the growth of the game."
"Bangla Soccer League is now giving a platform to future generations" - Syed Rahim Nabi
The main motive of the BSL is to promote football to the masses of West Bengal. Meanwhile, the Man of the Tournament, Highest Scorer and Quiz Winner will get to attend the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Speaking about the competition, former India international Syed Rahim Nabi told Sportskeeda:
"We all had at some point started playing football from our para [neighbourhood]. The Bangla Soccer League is now giving a platform to future generations and we might see another Nabi, Bhaichung, and Mehtab coming up."
While the craze for foreign football leagues is seemingly growing with every passing day, a tournament that encapsulates the culture of local football will nurture the quintessential Bengali spirit towards the beautiful game. For now, the Bangla Soccer League aims to do exactly that.